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Clean Hydrogen Development

Decarbonising Northern Ireland’s Economy and the role of Power to X in hydrogen energy

Project Description

Given the focus on climate change and carbon emissions, finding clean, secure, and affordable alternatives to fossil fuel energy has become increasingly important.

There are both challenges and opportunities in developing renewable energy alternatives to reduce our carbon intensity and contribute to the UK’s target and legislation for net zero carbon by 2050.

Northern Ireland must move on several decarbonising fronts simultaneously: power (electricity grid), transport (land, sea, and air), heat (homes and businesses) and land use (farming practices and land stewardship).

In conditions where the use of fossil fuels is to be restricted and replaced by zero carbon / renewable primary energy sources the benefits of the Power to X model start to become evident. In this model ‘X’ can be gas (usually hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water) or heat or other energy storage such as compressed air. Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, is clean burning (so releases no carbon emissions) and can be made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser.

Work is on-going with NI Water to develop Power to X schemes using their grid connectively at their treatment works and in them being a ready off-taker for oxygen in their critical treatment processes. Electrolysis of water results in 8 times more (by mass) oxygen being produced than hydrogen. The first scheme that NI Water is developing is centred on Belfast and could pave the way for Northern Ireland’s hydrogen economy.

Project Status

  • Build out of the demonstration scale waste-water treatment works with oxygen enhanced aeration completed spring 2023;
  • Deployment of an innovative membrane free electrolyser machine expected summer 2023; and
  • Clean hydrogen production to power hydrogen fuel cell buses (completing an oxygen/hydrogen ecosystem) end of 2023.

SIB Involvement

SIB is providing advice on technology options, co-ordination of synergies across sectors, supply chain issues and funding opportunities. SIB is also helped broker discussions within public sector bodies and private sector stakeholders.

The project featured as a case study in the NIAO publication – Good Practice Guide on Innovation and Risk Management published in June 2023.

For further information contact:

John Green

E: john.green@sibni.org

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